How do you become a rock star? It’s easier than you might think!

In this tongue-in-cheek tale, a raven-haired, olive-skinned child calmly offers suggestions from their own experience, such as using stuffed animals for backup vocals, and, when Mom won’t buy an electric guitar, riffing passionately on a broom. The suggestion that creates the most fodder for ironic text and sight gags is letting one’s little brother into the band. “Younger brothers are not ideal, but yours will have to do.” The child endures their brother’s toddler-babble, temper tantrums, and even a soiled diaper (slyly labeled “wardrobe malfunction”) while doggedly pursuing their dream. The text includes both simple statements by the protagonist and occasional speech balloons from olive-skinned Mom and light-skinned, red-bearded Dad. The art complements the lighthearted mood as the large-eyed, cartoonlike characters parade through the pages, sometimes rocking against stark white, sometimes shown against backgrounds with just enough detail to interest viewers without overwhelming them. There’s lots to laugh at: The narrator’s advice that aspiring rock stars start off by performing familiar songs is paired with an image of them crooning “The Wheels on the Bus”; Mom’s and Dad’s unwelcome suggestions for a band name are, respectively, “The Cuddle Monsters” and “The Not-So-Loud Band.” This one is well suited for a family read-aloud or for independent reading by good decoders. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This rocks! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-984814-20-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.


A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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